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    • Looks like Scottish Independence is a “No”
      The calls are coming in. Assuming they are correct, I think this vote is a mistake, and I note that having been given a clean vote to leave and a chance to live their own values, but having given in to fear; for me, at least, Scottish complaints about privatization of the NHS and other [...]
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Hokay, I’m done with Coke

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 8.22.25 AMNYTimes has an article on the “accidentally” leaked documents of the 501(c)(4) that contributes to the Republican Governor’s Association (RGA).  This advocacy group is called Republican Governors’ Public Policy Committee.  The Democrats have one too but it’s called something like The Center for Innovative Policy.  I guess they solicit all kinds of policy, not just Democratic ones. (that explains a lot)

Anyway, the members of this advocacy group contribute up to $250,000 in order to attend swank soirees and bend the ear of the Republican Governors in attendance.  Access “offers the ability to bring their particular expertise to the political process while helping to support the Republican agenda.”  And I used to think that these were equal opportunity corporate schmoozers.

So, you might be wondering who is in this shadowy group that is supporting the attack on women’s reproductive rights and cutting social safety net programs to the bone.  The usual suspects are here.  But there are also a couple of surprises:

The most elite group, known as the Statesmen, whose members donated $250,000, included Aetna; Coca-Cola; Exxon Mobil; Koch Companies Public Sector, the lobbying arm of the highly political Koch Industries; Microsoft; Pfizer; UnitedHealth Group; and Walmart. The $100,000 Cabinet level included Aflac, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Comcast, Hewlett-Packard, Novartis, Shell Oil, Verizon Communications and Walgreen.

Exxon, the Koch brothers and Pfizer don’t surprise me.  But Coca-Cola and Microsoft?  Really??

You mean every time I drink a diet Coke or buy another annoying Word license, I am contributing the the erosion of women’s rights or depriving some kid of food stamps?

Um, that’s disgusting.

I might not be able to get around Microsoft but I can definitely cut Coke out of my life.  Boycotts might be ineffective but this is a personal choice and I’m not consciously contributing to my own demise.

 

The NYTimes editorial fearmongering women for Obama

Maureen Dowd, one of only two females out of 12 op/ed columnists at the NYTimes

I guess the ladies will have to rescue Obama after all.  Today’s NYTimes editorial is all about those meanie Republicans who want to reinstate the Mexico City Rule and take away all our reproductive rights.

First, it should be noted that if you don’t want to lose your reproductive rights, don’t vote for downticket Republicans.  Oh, sure, there are pain in the ass anti-choice Democrats who should NEVER get another term but there are far, far more Republicans who are adamantly anti-choice.  And anti-labor.  And anti-consumer protections. And pro-neo-feudalism. And pro-war and authoritarianism.  And anti-Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.  By the way, did you know that Medicare only got passed in the 60s when the number of Republicans in Congress was decreased to such an extent that they didn’t have the critical mass to obstruct it?  Yep, you can look it up.  Here’s a BBC-4 Witness segment on the birth of medicare and what it took to get it passed.

In short, just about everything Americans like had to be passed when Republicans were down for the count.  Otherwise, their method is obstruct, obstruct, obstruct.  It’s what they do.  So, if you vote for a downticket Republican or a Tea Party Republican, that’s what you’re going to get.  They’re into austerity and redistributing wealth -upwards.

Does that mean you should vote always for the Democrat?  Well, until there are more third party downticket candidates, yeah, probably.  I don’t like it either.  But for sure, voting for a downticket Republican is going to mean more austerity for YOU and not for their rich friends.  You can choose to ignore the evidence and history if you want but them’s the facts.

Second, who is in the White House makes absolutely no difference this year.  I know Democrats say that it does but there’s no evidence of that.  We’ve had 4 years of Obama and he unmasked himself during the first debate.  He doesn’t fight for Americans.  He capitulates to Republicans.  He doesn’t exercise his veto pen enough and he was quite happy to leave the Bush Conscience Rule on the books.  Oh, sure, he tweaked it but he didn’t remove it.  And in my opinion, removing it is significant.  As long as the Bush Conscience Rule is around, women will never be sure that their reproductive decisions can’t be overridden by someone else.

Now, I understand why the NYTimes would be carrying Obama’s water.  It’s not that the Times is particularly liberal.  But the paper of record does tend to put a socially forward face on it’s wealth protection policies.  It doesn’t like to think of itself as backwards like the Republican bible-thumpers and who could blame it?  It’s gauche and stupid and deliberately ignorant to be a Republican supporter these days.  Sorry, Republicans, but that’s the truth.  Of course, none of that matters if you win, right?  Then you can shove your ignorance on everyone else and make them eat it and that will make you feel better.  But it means that you WILL impose austerity on everyone, including yourselves, if you vote for downticket Republicans.

But at the top of the ticket?  Makes not a damn bit of difference.  And the reason it particularly makes no difference to women is because no one has to take women seriously.  They can scream about reproductive rights until their blue in the face.  Without someone taking you seriously, you get nowhere. And in the past four years, no one has been taking women seriously.  And a lot of the blame for that can be attributed to the Democratic leadership.  They allowed a pattern of sexism to develop since 2008 that has been unprecedented.

Let’s just put aside the 2008 primaries where Obama routinely attempted to diminish his opponent by saying things like,” periodically when she’s feeling blue“* Hillary goes negative, it was Obama’s intention when he took office to make sure the jobs programs were tailored for men because he was concerned that they would feel bad if they were encouraged to go into pink professions like nursing (It’s in Ron Suskind’s book, Confidence Men).  And he also made the White House a “hostile working environment for women” (Anita Dunn said this in Suskind’s book)  He also ignored the advice of Christine Romer, Sheila Bair and Elizabeth Warren, each one of whom had to go through Tim Geithner to get anything done.  Tim Geithner, if I recall correctly, was one of the guys who piled on Brooksley Born, the head of the CFTC back at the end of the Clinton years who wanted to regulate derivatives.

Obama was the guy who hired Larry Summers who once famously said that women didn’t have the same intellectual capacity in math and science as men. (guys, don’t try to sugar coat this.  I’ve read the transcript and he sure as hell said that and meant exactly what he said.)

The whole atmosphere in the past four years has changed towards women.  Tell me, ladies, am I just imagining that?  Are men more likely to act like you don’t have a brain, treat you dismissively and cut you off in conversations?  I’m talking about just conversations on the phone not in person where they can’t see whether you are too old to pay attention to.  It’s gotten to the point where I’m already prepared to battle when I place a phone call.  I’ve seen it happen to women at work and just casually.  We have lost whatever mojo we fought so hard to get over the past 50 years.  No wonder the Republicans think they can run over our reproductive rights.  We don’t count anymore and there are very few champions in the Democratic party who are powerful or interested enough to stick up for us.  It would be nice if we had more women running for Congress this year as Democrats but even that is hard to find.  The Democratic leadership in Maine decided it would put their money behind a guy who wasn’t even in their party rather than run a woman from their side for the Senate seat that Olympia Snowe is vacating.

We can’t even get above 17% representation in Congress, which is one of the lowest female government representations in the developed world.  It shouldn’t be any wonder why nothing that is important to us gets passed.  We can’t get economic reforms we like, the jobs programs we like, the wars we hate to stop or protection of our social insurance programs.  No one takes anything we want seriously because we don’t have the critical mass in Congress to change anything.

We have fewer women in government than Pakistan

Voting for Obama isn’t going to change that.  In fact, the only thing that will change that is running more women for office and in order to do that, we need to get more authority. And in order to do that we need to have a greater voice in the opinion pages of the countries papers and online news sources.

And if that’s going to happen, maybe it should start with the New York Times, which has a male to female ratio of op/ed writers of 10:2.  That means that men are 5 times more likely to have their concerns represented on the New York Times editorial page every week than women.  And one of those women is Maureen Dowd whose schtick has been to pile on the women that the guys hate.  That seems to be a survival strategy. (And how did that work out, Maureen?)  I can’t think of one unambiguously feminist voice on the pages of the Washington Post or New York Times on a regular basis nor do I see any parity at all when it comes to representation.

So, if the New York Times feels so strongly about the fate of women’s reproductive rights, now would be a good time to add more women to its editorial lineup.  May I suggest dumping Douthat or Brooks?  Or both?  Then, hire someone like Digby. I’m a little tired of the Ezra Kleins, Kevin Drums and Matt Yglesias types getting all the peach positions.  It’s time for the New York Times to practice what it preaches and hire some women.

Otherwise, I can’t take it seriously.

*You know the level of sexism is bad when Andrea Mitchell notices.

Tuesday: It should be obvious but… #standwithsandra

(Note before we start: This is not a pro-Republican blog.  Friends don’t let friends vote Republican.  And we are most definitely not Reagan Democrats or conservative Democrats or birthers.  We are liberal, FDR style, Democrats in Exile who want our party to start acting like DEMOCRATS.)

It should be obvious to women that what is good for the Democratic party is not necessarily good for them.  But I think that what we are experiencing currently is a bit of the shock doctrine applied to gender politics.

The political strategy of the Democrats seems to be to let anti-woman legislature proceed without much pushback until it reaches a critical stage before they jump up and down in protest.  The outrage on our behalf seems concocted.  No, it’s more than concocted.  It’s entirely false.  Know how I know?  We still have only 17% representation in Congress.  You’d think that if women’s interests were all that important to the Democrats that they would do something about that.  Here in NJ, we have 13 (or is it 12 now?) representatives to Congress and not one of them is a woman.  Not one.  Well, you might say, maybe that’s just a recent phenomenon.  No, it is not.  We haven’t had a single woman representing us in Congress in all of the time I’ve lived here in the past 20 years.

In 2006, Linda Stender, a state congressperson, ran for my district, NJ-07, and came within 4000 votes of winning.  4000 votes in a district this dense is trivial.  It’s *tiny* here.  In 2006, the party seemed to be behind her.  When she ran again in 2008, it looked to me like the party abandoned her.  She was a pro-choice liberal Democrat.  Rahm Emannuel’s Democrats were more student body president types.  Unexciting, compliant, obedient schmoozers who tried to hide the fact that the were Democrats and carefully scrubbed all traces of reproductive rights issues from their campaign webpages.  You can almost hear the consultants telling them, “Don’t let them think you’re a liberal Democrat and for god’s sakes, get rid of the pro-choice stuff.  The secret to winning this year is to grab the not-quite-as-crazy evangelical vote.  Don’t worry about the Democrats.  They got no place to go.”

This year, the New Jersey Democratic party isn’t backing even ONE woman challenger for any Congressional districts.  There is one woman named Diane Sare who is running as a LaRouche Democrat, whatever the f^&* that is.  That’s it.  All of the rest of the candidates are men.  Are we to believe that in the entire state of NJ with over 8.8 million people, we couldn’t find at least one Democratic woman per district to challenge Republican male representatives?  Unbelievable.

Some of the districts do not yet have Democratic challengers so it could be that the party just hasn’t put the names up there yet but still, this is just a really sad state of affairs.  You might want to check your own state to see who your state Democratic party is promoting.

The representation in Congress is pathetic.  We rank 71st among nations behind Pakistan, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates.  Can you believe that?  In places where you can’t walk down the street without getting harassed for not wearing your hijab and where religious courts still hold women in subjection, they have more women in elected office than here.

We have to hold the parties accountable for this sad state of affairs.  We’re not going to make any progress with the Republican party this election season but now would be a very good time to make the so-called sympathetic men in the Democratic party put their actions where their mouths are.  I call on women today to demand two things from the Democratic party immediately:

1.) That their local and state Democratic parties nominate a woman challenger for every seat currently held by a Republican for the 2012 elections.

2.) That they impose a quota on themselves, and write it into their party platform, to have no fewer than 34% women in their Congressional and party delegations, committee chairmanships and nominations for elected office, and that elected men who are not pulling their weight for Democratic party values be asked to step aside for a female challenger.

It’s the least they can do.  To do anything less makes them look like they are using the current attack on women’s rights as a political game to attract women to the Democratic party without actually having to do anything to promote women’s causes.  We are more than 50% of the population and we deserve better than this.  If they can’t committ to those two things this year, without question, with all of the fire on gender issues raging around them, then they are not our allies and we need to discuss how we create a party that is more responsive to our needs as quickly as possible.

And what is happening to women’s rights will be repeated with the social insurance programs.  The Republicans will be allowed to introduce legislation unchallenged by Democrats and then Democrats will howl that they’re trying to impoverish old people.  It’s a game where the things we value most are held over a pit of snapping crocodiles by the very same people who promise to save us from the crocodiles only if we give them everything they want.  It’s extortion and it’s evil.

Don’t give Democrats a pass.  Now is the time to strike a hard bargain.   I can hardly believe what I’m seeing these days when women are pulled off of the steps of the Virginia Capitol and carted away for trying to defend their rights.  You’d think this was 1918.  But it just proves that women’s suffrage means nothing if all you can vote for are men.

The Democrats are going to run on “results” in November??

Bart Stupak, poster boy for the "party of results"

I know, I know.  It took me awhile to stop giggling too.  They can’t possibly be serious.  But that’s what PoliticalTicker is claiming.   Swallow your coffee before you read it:

Washington (CNN) – When voters head to the polls in November, the Democratic National Committee would like them to remember Democrats with one word: results.

On Wednesday at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, chairman Tim Kaine revealed his party’s new message and strategy months ahead of the midterm elections. Kaine talked about the efforts with CNN Chief National Correspondent John King in an interview that aired on John King, USA.

Kaine told King that Democrats hope to convince voters they are the party of results. Part of their new strategy will involve pushing that message, helping local candidates, and convincing many of the new voters – that voted for President Barack Obama in the last election – to support Democrats in the midterms.

The DNC chairman said that while the economy still needs improvements, it’s moved from recession to recovery.

Kaine said, “I think the improvement will be noticed by our voters and we’ll be able to make the case to them, do you want to keep climbing or do you want to hand the keys back to the guys who put us into the ditch?”

Yeah, I’m sure that’s what they will be thinking as they head out the door today with their complimentary cardboard box for their stuff and their three month severance packages.

Actually, that’s not what I’ve been witnessing here in the heart of middle class suburbia.  What is happening is that the Republicans in NJ are stirring up an anti-tax rebellion and directing it against hapless teachers.  Why should THEY be getting decent bennies and a steady paycheck when the people footing the bill with their ridiculous property taxes are seeing their industries disappearing and their own lives on the brink of disaster?

Tim Kaine and the Democrats are utterly clueless.  They have no idea what is really going on out here.  Results?  What results?

Was the stimulus package big enough to stave off these drastic cuts in our school districts?

Did Democrats end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Did the Democrats fight hard for the entrepreneurs and small businesses to get the capital they need to start new ventures so people would have jobs?

Did the Democrats soak the rich bankers within an inch of their lives so that they would learn a valuable lesson and the financial catastrophe they brought upon us wouldn’t happen again?

Did Democrats put together an adequate bailout and mortgage restructuring package for strapped homeowners so they wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from their obligations?  Did they make it easier for mortgage owners to keep money flowing to the banks to keep them solvent?

Did the Democrats impose some emergency regulations so that bankers would stop gambling away our futures?

Have the Democrat done ANYTHING so far to make sure that no one touches Social Security and that we get our Trust Fund money back from the thieves who took it?

Did the Democrats give us actual health care reform that’s truly universal, affordable, with competition?

Did the Democrats protect womens’ rights and autonomy of her own body?

Did the Democrats fix gender paycheck inequalities for real or did they simply pass a law with no teeth?

Did the Democrats try to protect American workers’ jobs?

I haven’t seen any results.  I’ve seen them turn their backs on their own voters in 2008 in order to elect their lightbringer, an easy win for them.  All they had to do was change the roolz in the middle of the game and cudgel frantic American voters with false accusations of racism to guilt them into voting for one of the most unprepared but nakedly ambitious presidents since George W. Bush.  But it wasn’t enough to make him president.  No, the world had to give him a Nobel prize as well.  What’s next?  A MacArthur genius grant for curing cancer?  Where does he find the time??  The awards must be piling up on his little display etegere, like a bunch of 3rd place martial arts trophies.  Everyone who participates gets a prize for trying.

And the whining.  I can’t stand it.  We are now supposed to believe that a minority party, the Republicans, are responsible for all that has gone wrong.  They stand in the way.  They say no to everything.  Even when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, the Republicans were responsible.  How can that be??  I am trying hard to wrap my head around this concept.  Here’s what I’ve got: 1.) Democrats had a filibuster proof majority in the senate.  2.)Republicans got what they wanted anyway.  3.) Soooo, maybe the problem is actually *in* the Democratic party.   Three names come to mind immediately: Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Bart Stupak.  You can throw Blanche Lincoln and Mary Landrieu in there as well but at least they can be leaned on.  Who leaned on Nelson, Lieberman and Stupak?  Those three swaggered all over Congress and Stupak in particular got whatever the hell he wanted.  It was Bart Stupak vs the majority of voters in the USA and Bart won.  BART won.  The Democrats allowed Bart and Obama to screw millions of women out of their personal autonomy and Democrats have the nerve to blame Republicans?

I don’t think Democrats understand the impact of their cowardice.  Women are not a special interest.  Workers have to work to pay taxes.  The financial investment industry is out of control and wrecking havoc around the world.  Our current wars are pointless wastes of lives and money.  Sick children should never have to pass through a gauntlet to get affordable health care.  And we need teachers, even the mean ones who can’t be bothered to address the needs of the gifted.  If they do a good job with the other 98% of the students in their classes, we will have gotten more than our money’s worth.

You want to know what I want to see in the results category?  I want to see real passion on the Floor.  I want to see yelling and screaming.  I want to see the progressives and liberals eat some red meat and throw a fit until the Bart Stupaks in their own party back down.  I want to see eggs thrown and smoke bombs and bloody noses.  I want to see incivility.  I want to see so much fighting in Congress by Democratic representatives on behalf of Americans not in the bonus class that the editorial page of the New York Times faints before it can reach the smelling salts.  I don’t want two Republican parties.  I want to see Democrats actually ACT like Democrats. 

Shove your “party of results” meme until you have some results.  I own my vote.  I don’t give it away for social promotion purposes.  You can’t scare me with the Republican boogie man anymore.  I voted for downticket Dems in 2008 but they haven’t pulled their weight.  If Republicans win this fall, Democrats have themselves to blame and no one else.  It was their responsibility to get things done and they blew it.  They coasted.   This fall, I’m not voting for either party.  I’m voting for a party to be designated later.

And stop calling me for money.

Saturday Morning Musings on Corporate Control and Internet Freedom

Good Morning Conflucians!!

It’s so nice to wake up to sun pouring in my windows after the horrible rains of the past couple of weeks. I guess I should consider myself fortunate that all I had to deal with was some water in the basement. And since my ex-husband liked to buy every kind of tool and gadget, I happened to have a sump pump and a shop vac down there.

Yesterday it was 70 degrees here in the northwestern Boston area, and it looks like the nice, warm weather is going to stick around for the next week.

Ah…Spring! The forsythia is coming out and lots of green stuff is appearing in the yard. Soon the cherry trees will be blooming all over the place. Somehow it’s a little easier to be optimistic at this time of year than in the dead of winter.

In my Saturday morning ramble around the blogosphere, I came across an interesting piece by Cory Doctorow: Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) I found it thought-provoking, not because I was agonizing about whether to buy an iPad–I’m not even slightly interested in it–but because the arguments Doctorow makes are relevant to innovation in every area of life, including politics. Doctorow’s main point is that “incumbents make bad revolutionaries.”

I’ve spent ten years now on Boing Boing, finding cool things that people have done and made and writing about them. Most of the really exciting stuff hasn’t come from big corporations with enormous budgets, it’s come from experimentalist amateurs. These people were able to make stuff and put it in the public’s eye and even sell it without having to submit to the whims of a single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology.

Doctorow argues that once any entrepreneur, no matter how visionary and innovative, gets enough power and control over a market, that entrepreneur/corporation/politician/journalist will try to corner the market and become a “gatekeeper” for what the rest of us are allowed to do, see, read, and buy.

We become nothing to them but anonymous “consumers” who will fork over our money and time and take whatever the controllers want to dole out to us. He says these gatekeepers have contempt for us as consumers–they want to “infantilize” us, keep us dependent on them, and prevent us from sharing the products we buy with others and modifying those products in ways that work for us as individuals.

Doctorow uses the example of a new iPad app offered by Marvel Comics. Not being a “comics person,” I don’t quite understand what it is, but here is Doctorow’s explanation:

I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

So what does Marvel do to “enhance” its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites.

Isn’t this what is happening in every area of our lives these days? The internet has changed how we get our information and form our opinions; and the mainstream media, politicians, corporations, and the entertainment industry don’t like that one bit. They are going to fight to death to maintain control over the populace–making every effort to keep us passive and willing to settle for less than what we really need and want. As Doctorow says,

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff. The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of “content” isn’t just that they can get it for free, though: it’s that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too. The open platform has allowed for an explosion of new material, some of it rough-hewn, some of it slick as the pros, most of it targetted more narrowly than the old media ever managed. Rupert Murdoch can rattle his saber all he likes about taking his content out of Google, but I say do it, Rupert. We’ll miss your fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the Web so little that we’ll hardly notice it, and we’ll have no trouble finding material to fill the void.

Politicians are in the same boat as corporations–no wonder they have joined forces with big business in their joint efforts to control us and keep us consuming all the crap they want us to buy from them! The health care reform debacle is certainly a case in point. Most Americans want a single payer health plan–just expand Medicare to everyone and be done with it. Medicare already covers 40% of Americans, why not all of us? Medicare has very low overhead, so why should we have to buy insurance from corporations with 30% overhead?

It makes no sense, but the politicians tell us not to believe the obvious evidence that Medicare for all would be the best plan for the American people. They are going to do their best to try to convince us that we want to be forced to buy crap insurance from whomever they tell us to buy it from and that it was a fair trade-off for women to lose their reproductive freedom so that approximately 25 million more people can have crap health insurance that probably won’t provide the health care they actually need.

In 2008, the Democratic Party, along with the giant corporations who control the mainstream media, decided to force voters to sit back and just be consumers of whatever crap they decided to force down our throats. They selected a candidate for us instead of listening to what we wanted in a President. They weren’t interested in listening to us, and the President they chose for us isn’t interested in listening to what we think either.

Clearly Barack Obama and his corporate backers saw the danger of a vital, rough-and-tumble liberal blogosphere, and they realized they would have to deal with the big liberal blogs in order to win the Democratic nomination.

David Axelrod had a long history of running astroturf campaigns, and he knew just what to do. First, he needed to get young people involved. They would be attracted to a candidate who offered hope of “transformative change.” He introduced him to the product, Barack Obama, as a “transformative leader” and “inspirational speaker,” a “messiah” would would save the country from the Bush/Cheney gang.

Younger people wouldn’t know the difference. They wouldn’t really remember John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or even Bill Clinton, all of whom were better speakers and who implemented much more transformative policies than Barack Obama was offering–even the campaign before he reverse himself on nearly every issue.

Axelrod organized Obama camps where these enthusiastic young liberals could be trained to be “ruthless for Obama,” doing whatever was necessary to sell the new product on the internet and in person.

Then he sent these young people out to infiltrate the prog blogs, especially the biggest ones–Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. What the Obama crowd didn’t bank on was people like us who were a little older and/or wiser and just weren’t all that impressed with the packaging of the product. We wanted blueprints, details and specifics. We wanted to know what the guy really thought and believed. We looked past the packaging, and we decided not to buy the product.

Since, as Marcos Moulitsas likes to say, “it’s a big internet,” we headed out into the wilderness and started our own liberal blogs. No wonder they tried so hard to kill us off during the primaries. We weren’t interested in just being consumers of a product. We wanted to have a say in our own futures. We saw the government and the Democratic party as our employees, not our masters. We wanted freedom of choice.

Now that the banks, corporations and media have won the battle, now that they have their chosen front man and they have turned the “progressive blogs” into “access bloggers,” they are still doing everything possible to limit our choices so they can stay in control of the political system and keep us from gaining any real power over our lives. They are going to fight to the death to limit our control over our own internet experience, our choices of what media to consume.

We must be eternally vigilant in preventing the government and corporations from completely neutering the internet. Interacting with each other–with more and more people around the country and the world, freely exchanging ideas and information, is our best hope for saving what is left of democracy in America. They may have won this battle, but they have not yet won the war.

I’d love to get your take on this, but as always, please post links to what you are reading in the comments. Here are a few other stories that caught my eye this morning to get you started. Have a great Saturday everyone!!

Apple’s iPad hits store shelves


The Militia Man Next Door


Urologist Posts His Politics on His Florida Office Door


Terrifying Sea Critter Hauled from the Ocean’s Depths

Finally! Scientific proof that greasy breakfasts are good for us!

The Confluence CCD Class for Incorrigible American Women

If anyone had told me two years ago that I would be teaching a CCD class for incorrigible women, I would have thought they were playing a practical joke on me.  For one thing, I’m the LAST person on earth who should be trying to whip anyone into line where Catholic theology is concerned.  That doesn’t mean I don’t have morals and ethics.  It’s just that until Bart Stupak and his Vatican campaign staff came along, I thought I had a choice of religion.  Silly me!  I’m just a woman.  An *American* woman.  In France, I am told by one of my colleagues, there was a recent bill passed that provided greater compensation to doctors who provided abortions.  Apparently, the doctors in France felt they were being underpaid for the service and fewer of them were willing to perform the procedure.  So they government decided to make it easier for women to get this service by paying doctors more. I’ll see if I can find a citation, er, that’s not in French.

But I digress.

See, American women are not French.  No, we need the guidance of our ministers and fathers and husbands and boyfriends and guys who belong to a 2000 year old men only club who only recently apologized to Gallileo for dissing his heliocentric theory and sell their sopranos to foreigners for sexual pleasure that they aren’t technically supposed to be dabbling in anyway.  (There’s probably some clause that they invoke about how the choirboys haven’t officially taken any vows of chastity)  THEY can get away with it.  YOU cannot. Why can’t you?  I have no frickin’ idea.  I’m just here to teach this CCD class, not make the rules.

Now, I know that some of you are not Catholic.  You may be Protestant or Buddhist or atheists or neo-pagan universalists.  You may have thought you had the right to decide for yourselves whether you believed that zygotes have immortal and innocent souls that needed protection and that you are tainted with original sin for having SEX(!) or being created from the union of two tainted individuals who had SEX(!).  See, this is where you are wrong.  It’s not up to you to decide this stuff.  I don’t know why you can’t decide.  That’s not my job.  As I said before, I don’t make the rules.

Anyway, enough of the groundwork.  Where shall we begin?  Well. let’s start with saints.  To me, saints look like a holdover from polytheism but that might just be my mother’s protestant influence on me.  Saints have feast days in the Catholic calendar.  Saints can intercede on our behalf with the head honchos in heaven.  But each one of them is in a different department and carry out only a single function.  Like St. Anthony is supposed to help you find things.  St. Christopher is supposed to help travelers.  If St. Anthony and St. Christopher got together, they might market their services to people who lose their luggage at airports.

Now, who is the saint for March 25?  You may be surprised to know (or not), that there are many saints available for March 25.  But I have found the perfect one for incorrigible American women who after yesterday’s executive order signing ceremony (that wasn’t televised at lunch to nauseate the unsuspecting diner) are newly converted Catholics.  Her name is St. Dula.

From the Saints and Angels page we learn that St Dula was a:

Virgin martyr at Nicomedia, in Asia Minor, also called Theodula. The slave of a pagan soldier, Dula died defending her chastity.

What a brave, shining example St. Dula sets for us.  We should all go out and do likewise.  She probably couldn’t help it that she was a slave but original sin is powerful.  Her parents were probably responsible for her misfortune because they had SEX(!).   Nevertheless, this poor woman, and by poor I mean a working class person making little or no money, died rather than submit herself to the indignities of having SEX(!).  I find this story strange because had Dula become pregnant from rape, she might have been able to qualify for a federally funded abortion.  But never mind the inconsistency.  Believers in 2000 year old religions have to live with such things and so do you.  From now on.  Until we elect a woman.  Next time.

I pray.

Now, be good and pure or it’s off to the laundries with you.

The Magdalene sisters will getcha if you don't watch out!

“A Tragic Setback For Womens’ Rights”

Via Vastleft at Correntewire

That’s what NOW president Terry O’Neill calls the bill that the House passed last night.  Here’s more from her press release this morning:

The health care reform bill passed by Congress today offers a number of good solutions to our nation’s critical health care problems, but it also fails in many important respects. After a full year of controversy and compromise, the result is a highly flawed, diminished piece of legislation that continues reliance on a failing, profit-driven private insurance system and rewards those who have been abusive of their customers. With more than 45,000 unnecessary deaths annually and hundreds of thousands of bankruptcies each year due to medical bills, this bill is only a timid first step toward meaningful reform.

Fact: The bill contains a sweeping anti-abortion provision. Contrary to the talking points circulated by congressional leaders, the bill passed today ultimately achieves the same outcome as the infamous Stupak-Pitts Amendment, namely the likely elimination of all private as well as public insurance coverage for abortion. It imposes a bizarre requirement on insurance plan enrollees who buy coverage through the health insurance exchanges to write two monthly checks (one for an abortion care rider and one for all other health care). Even employers will have to write two separate checks for each of their employees requesting the abortion rider.

This burdensome, elaborate system must be eliminated. It is there because the Catholic bishops and extremist abortion rights opponents know that it will result in greatly restricting access to abortion care, currently one of the most common medical procedures for women.

….

Fact: The bill permits age-rating, the practice of imposing higher premiums on older people. This practice has a disproportionate impact on women, whose incomes and savings are lower due to a lifetime of systematic wage discrimination.

Fact: The bill also permits gender-rating, the practice of charging women higher premiums simply because they are women. Some are under the mistaken impression that gender-rating has been prohibited, but that is only true in the individual and small-group markets. Larger group plans (more than 100 employees) sold through the exchanges will be permitted to discriminate against women — having an especially harmful impact in workplaces where women predominate.

We know why those gender- and age-rating provisions are in the bill: because insurers insisted on them, as they will generate billions of dollars in profits for the companies. Such discriminatory rating must be completely eliminated.

Read the whole thing.

The propaganda catapulters have been out in force in the past couple of days, trying to shape consensus reality so that it will appear that a.) anyone who praises the bill will look intelligent, modern and sexy and b.) anyone who opposes it, especially women, will be told that they’re being selfish, self-centered, hard-hearted bitches because they would rather let 32 million uninsured people die than give up their access to a cheap and easy abortion that they should be able to pay for themselves.

But even people such as myself who were in favor of health care reform and wanted to fix, not kill the bill, will find that the impact that this bill will have on women goes beyond abortion.  It appears that it will mean higher rates for women and those higher rates may make an employer think twice about hiring and firing and promotions, as if women don’t have enough to worry about.  Our salaries are lower than mens’ but we will be forking out more  to pay for our health.  As cost sharing goes, this is a raw deal for women.  It makes us a liability and drag on our employers’ bottom line and makes our lives harder.

And by the way, you propaganda artists, we happen to be among those 32 million uninsured.

Last night, Jane Hamsher put up a poll on FDL asking who was most to blame for selling out our  abortion rights in the health care bill.  The multiple choice answers included a number of culprits and probably all of them were responsible from Nancy Pelosi caving to Bart Stupak to Planned Parenthood staying silent to Barack Obama himself.  But she left out the people who were really responsible and whose decisions two years ago were the genesis of the erosion of their rights today.  That would be women such as Jane Hamsher herself who did not forcefully advocate for fairness in the primaries and who rejected a sure thing womens’ advocate in Clinton for a cipher in a mens suit.  Barack Obama had a history of voting present on abortion legislation in Illinois.  He met with evangelicals throughout the election season.  The Democratic candidates who ran the same year scrubbed their support of reproductive rights from their websites.  The effect was to give the illusion to swing voters and religious voters that Barack Obama and the new Democrats were open to negotiation where womens’ reproductive rights were concerned.

I caught Jane on several occasions going head to head with conservative bloggers on C-Span and other programs, warning viewers that Republicans were going to take away their rights to abortion and that only Obama and the Democrats would protect them.  And a lot of women, young women of child bearing age, listened to Jane and Jessica and Ariana and others like them, rejected Hillary Clinton in the primaries due to her Iraq War Resolution vote and heaped scorn and derision on Sarah Palin because of her anti-choice stance and supposed stupidity.  But they utterly failed to look carefully at what Barack Obama was doing or had done.  They refused to look at the evidence and draw conclusions about what the evidence meant. The final insult was Ms. Magazine itself proclaiming that Barack Obama was some sort of superhero feminist on its cover after a year of the most brutal and obscene misogynism we have ever witnessed in a national campaign.

Jane is responsible for that.  We, the newly unaffiliated liberal Democrats, were not distracted and fooled.  We knew Obama by watching him.  We believed our lyin’ eyes.  And once again, we were proven right.  It makes us villains to Jane.  Instead of asking for our help, she gives us her scorn and disrespect.  Jane calls us “A certain type of woman”.  What kind of woman is that, Jane?  The kind that isn’t duped by appeals to their emotions and terrorized to vote against their best interests?  This is what happens when malicious forces act to divide us.  Women, like the rest of the impotent left, can only watch in dismay as we are now relegated to the same socio-economic status we had 40 years ago.

I don’t know if this country can be healed.  From what I know, women have very little status in truly fascist regimes.  That word, fascism, is not one to throw around lightly or it will lose its meaning.  Maybe a fascist political system that isn’t one we necessarily planned but towards which we drift, propelled by the evolving nature of our media, finance system and millenialist religious views.  But last night’s vote looks like it brought the real impact of that word a little closer to our everyday reality.  We are now locked into a law that gives our money to private entities, we are told that our individual and gender grievances must be subordinate to the glory of the bill and the status of more than half of the citizens of the country has been diminished.

I wanted health care reform.  Just not this one.

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